Oh no, oh no…

Since I’ve been reading your blogs and rants for about as long as I’ve been following wrestling on the internet, I wanted to see if I could get a plug for our new website, where we are currently selling a pretty nifty Macho Man-inspired piece of merch (until the inevitable cease & desists come along, either from Jerry McDivitt or Kraft Foods).  Anyway, if you could toss a plug our way, it’d be splendid.  Here’s a picture of the shirt if you wanna throw it up on the blog: http://i.imgur.com/dk9Bk.jpg http://www.doomsdayattire.com Thanks a ton and a half, Daniel

That is incredibly awesome. 

Oh no, oh no…

Since I’ve been reading your blogs and rants for about as long as I’ve been following wrestling on the internet, I wanted to see if I could get a plug for our new website, where we are currently selling a pretty nifty Macho Man-inspired piece of merch (until the inevitable cease & desists come along, either from Jerry McDivitt or Kraft Foods).  Anyway, if you could toss a plug our way, it’d be splendid.  Here’s a picture of the shirt if you wanna throw it up on the blog: http://i.imgur.com/dk9Bk.jpg http://www.doomsdayattire.com Thanks a ton and a half, Daniel

That is incredibly awesome. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Shooting From The Hipster

Can we just go ahead and make it clear that if something happens on Raw it is indeed a work? I don’t understand how so many people think that when something  happens on Raw and the camera and sound stay with it, it’s all a work. When Punk delivered his promo last year, if it was a shoot then as soon as he started  going off the rails then everything would have been cut off. Vince is just too much of a tight ass to allow shoot promos linger on.

It amazes me that there’s the biggest match of the year coming up at Wrestlemania and something just HAPPENS to occur in their promo to get everyone talking and choosing sides, and people are still like “OMG, I wonder if that was a SHOOT?”  By the way, Stephanie had that stupid article in Entertainment Weekly where she talked about how they wanted a Twilight feel to the main event, where people would be picking their side and vehemently defending it, so kudos to her for almost pulling it off. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

Merging Titles

Here’s a random question from the depths of the inbox…

I was watching Raw with the girlfriend (generally a non-fan) last night and she noticed that pretty much EVERYONE had a title. She then asked me, literally direct quote, “What’s the point of having titles if everyone has one?” The fact that a non-fan who watches maybe an hour of wrestling a month noticed this must mean something… So, yeah, do you think we’re going to see titles unified any time soon??? Be it secondary or primary?
This subject comes up a lot, and I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails about it, but I think it’s become more relevant in recent months with the practical end of the brand split and the elevation of the MitB briefcase to “more important than IC/US belt” level.

Really the problem has become much more pronounced with the US and IC titles, where a guy like Swagger gets the US title for no real storyline reason and literally has nothing to do for weeks afterwards.  It makes even worse given how Ziggler seemed to work at making the title seem important while in a similar position.  And really what has Cody Rhodes done with the IC title since winning it?  Introduced a new belt, big whoop.  He never defends the thing (most of the past few months was spent feuding with Randy Orton in a program where Orton didn’t want the belt).  It’s literally just a prop at this point, until the next time they decide they want to focus on it for a week and then forget about it again.  Will they ever start merging titles and get rid of them?  Of course not.  Because then they couldn’t sell replica belts at house shows or release “Best of the US title” DVD sets.  They have the belts because belts have always been part of the show , not because they particularly care about trying to make money off them. 

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

The SmarK Countdown: Wrestlemania 2

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania 2 – This show is the debut of the floating WWF logo (“What the world is watching”) that is the WWF’s equivalent of the THX opening. Back when we poor Canadians had to watch WWF PPVs live on a big screen at our local arena, that generally got as big a pop as any wrestler. (Can you imagine the days when the WWF could actually come close to selling out a 12,000 seat arena just for showing a PPV on a screen?)  – Dumbest idea ever: This is live from three different locations. Original airdate: April 7 / 1986First Stage: – Live from Uniondale, New York. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James. For those of you who have tuned out the 80s completely, Susan gained fame on a sitcom called “Kate & Allie”, although her initial celebrity push came from a show called “MacMillan and Wife”. She was married to Dick Ebersole at the time, who ran NBC, and was thus TNN to the WWF’s ECW at the time, if you will.  (None of that makes any sense to people reading in 2012, of course.)  Opening match: Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff hasn’t turned on the Orange Goblin yet at this point, but he’s getting close. Orndorff holds a wristlock for a couple of minutes, but Muraco dumps him over the top to escape and they fight to a double countout. And that’s our first DUD of the night…  (Brutally clipped on the Coliseum version, by the way)Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele. Susan recaps the feud in two sentences. “He has this beautiful manager; he treats her like dirt. Animal is in love with her.” There ya go. (Try to recap the Kane v. Cena feud in two sentences.  I DARE YOU.  Simpler is better, well, most of the time.)  Savage still doesn’t have the Memphis heel flushed out of his system yet, so he runs around the ring to escape Steele right away. And runs. And runs. Finally Steele catches him, but Savage runs away again. He brings back a bouquet of flowers (given to him by no less than Al Isaacs!) and they beat each other up with that. No, really. Savage even sells it. (That’s because he’s awesome.)  Steele bites open the turnbuckle and rubs stuffing in Savage’s face, and Savage sells that too. More running, but Steele gets distracted talking to Liz (and I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) and Savage gets the double axehandle and big elbow, but Steele kicks out at two. Savage lures him into the corner and does the Ric Flair pin on him to retain the title. We’ll be generous and go -* – George Welles v. Jake Roberts. Welles is some football player turned wrestler, and not a very good one at that. This is during the Snake’s initial heel push in the WWF. Welles is like a bulkier Virgil (or Vince, as the case may be). Welles decimates Roberts with some basic stuff (slams, forearms, a flying headscissors and powerslam) before a ringside chase leads to a Roberts kneelift as Welles comes back in. DDT and it’s over. Roberts got no offense before the finish. Welles gets the Damian treatment, of course. * – Boxing match: Mr. T v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was set up by Saturday Night’s Main Event, as Piper and his, ahem, longtime companion Bob Orton pearl-harbored Mr. T during another boxing match. Piper gives a funny interview as he promises to quit boxing, wrestling, tiddlywinks and dating girls if T knocks him out. He pledges to keep Orton around, though. OOOOOOOO-kay, Roddy. Round one is pretty decent. I wonder if the actual boxing before the goofy ending was a shoot? Probably not. (Ya THINK?) Round two sees them visibly pulling their punches, with Piper absolutely walloping T to the point where he’d be unconscious if it were real. Crowd actually starts chanting “Rowdy Roddy” for the mega-heel Piper. Piper knocks T down again at the bell. Piper is super-cocky in round three, goofing around to start. T of course takes advantage and slaughters Piper in the corner. T hits a phantom punch and Piper rolls out of the ring to recouperate, pretty much giving it away as a work right there. Of course, it’s being promoted by a guy who once fixed a Karate Fighters tournament, so it’s hardly surprising. Round four begins and they start wailing away with roundhouse shots that would kill the other guy if it was a shoot. (I don’t remember if this was written before or after Brawl For All was foisted on the world, but it seems like it was written after.  Point being, I don’t know why past Scott was so fixated on whether a match involving Roddy Piper might have been anything but a giant goofy work, but he should probably shut the fuck up about it already.)  Finally Piper has enough and he shoves the referee down and bodyslams Mr. T to draw the DQ. I don’t rate boxing matches (does rec.sport.boxing use a five-star system? I’ve never checked) (answer:  No, of course not, because boxing is competition and wrestling is exhibition) but this was a pretty good fight for the first three rounds. The Bottom Line: Well, that sucked. But the boxing match was pretty good.  Second Stage: – Live from Chicago, Illinois. – Your hosts are Mean Gene, Gorilla Monsoon and Cathy Lee Crosby (from “That’s Incredible”) (or as the show was known in Japan, “Crappy tombstone piledriver”)Opening match, Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet MacIntyre. This lasts about a minute, with Velvet missing something off the top rope and Moolah getting the pin. DUD – Flag match: Nikolai Voloff v. Cpl. Kirschner. Winner gets to wave his country’s flag. Volkoff rams him into the post and then blades Kirschner right ON CAMERA while under the pretense of biting him. You can then see Volkoff putting the blade back into his tights. Kirschner rolls back and shoves the ref out of the way, then intercepts the cane tossed in by Freddie Blassie and nails Volkoff with it for the pin. Lasted all of a minute. DUD  (I never got why they would bring in a military character who could be anything they wanted, and make him a CORPORAL.  Why not an officer at the very least?)  – Bill Fralic and John Studd jaw at each other during an interview. – 20 man football player/wrestler battle royale. Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller is the guest timekeeper (As a lesson to those of you who believe in the power of social media to somehow influence the business for the better, Peller’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s actually resulted in a drop in their sales, despite the obnoxious catchphrase becoming a phenomenon in itself.  It would be trending worldwide on 1986’s Twitter, you might say, and meant nothing for selling burgers.  Take note, WWE.)  and Dick “Pat Patterson’s favorite wrestler” Butkus is the guest referee. Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Meng), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants, and if you haven’t heard any of those names that’s probably because they’re the football players. Andre and Studd go right to it, of course. Squint and Spivey looks like Hogan. (Yeah, that’s pretty much what they hoped for) Cobert and Tonga eliminate each other to start. Bruno dumps Ernie Holmes. Jim Brunzell gets triple teamed and knocked out. The Harts work together of course. Andre dumps Tony Atlas. Studd and Fridge are pounding on each other for a good chunk of this thing. Old man Bruno is holding his own pretty good. Morales and Harvey Martin go at the same time. Ted Arcidi tries to dump Blair, but he slips underneath and knocks out Arcidi. Spivey gets dumped by Hillbilly Jim, who is in turn dumped by Blair, who is dumped while doing the dumping by the Sheik. Fralic gets tossed by Studd. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Bruno works over Studd while the Hart Foundation double-teams Perry. Studd tosses Bruno. Studd and Perry do the big showdown, with the Fridge running into Studd’s elbow and getting tossed. Fridge offers Studd a handshake in friendship, and of course proceeds to pull Studd out. (There’s your future hall-of-famer right there, ladies and gentlemen.)  This leaves Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation. The Harts double-dropkick Andre into the ropes and then beat on Francis and dump him. They do the double-whip-tackle to soften him up, but on the second try Bret gets a foot in the face and Andre cleans house. Anvil gets the big boot and sells it so dramatically that he goes flying over the top rope, and then Bret comes off the top rope but gets caught and thrown out, giving the win to Andre. I don’t rate battle royales, but this wasn’t very good and way too fast. – WWF tag team title match: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. The Bulldogs had been chasing the Dream Team all over hell’s half-acre for months prior to this (Does anyone outside of the Canadian prairies ever use that phrase, by the way?) , and this would be the last title shot for them. You know how much people worship Chris Benoit today? (BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE!!!!)  Benoit will NEVER be as good as Dynamite Kid. (Unless Dynamite was really good at…BAD SCOTT!  NO!) That’s what kind of talent the world lost to Dynamite’s back injury. Davey Boy is the Marty Jannetty of the Bulldogs, the one who wasn’t supposed to get the singles push, but did by default. (And this analogy is the Marty Jannetty of analogies, because it deserves to be thrown through the window and sent to rehab.  I guess you could equate Bulldog and Marty in terms of the drugs done by them, but Davey Boy was really more along the lines of Scott Steiner, the guy who got split off from his team against his will and reinvented himself as a huge singles star)  It staggers the mind what Dynamite could have done in good health at this point in his career. Bulldogs just destroy Valentine and Beefcake with an awesome array of crisply delivered suplexes and clotheslines, but Beefcake lures Smith into the corner and Hammer comes off the top with a cheap shot to turn the tide. Bulldogs quickly reclaim it, but Valentine piledrives Dynamite (with a NASTY one, too) to get a couple of two counts. A pier-six erupts and Davey Boy comes in with a running powerslam for two. Hammer is actually playing a kind of heel in peril, taking a lot of punishment from the Bulldogs, presumably to showcase their offense to the casual fans. Davey Boy misses a charge to the corner and fucks up his shoulder, putting him in the Ricky Morton role. Insane move as Brutus hammerlocks Davey Boy and then drops him right on his arm. Smith is insane to sell that crazy shit. (Totally safe bump, though, just looks impressive.)  Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker, but picks him up at two. Dynamite climbs to the top rope, and Smith shoves Valentine into Dynamite’s head and pins him out of nowhere to claim their first and only tag team title. ***1/2 Best match of the show, duh.  (I’m continually disappointed by this match and hope that someday I’ll watch it and it’ll be as great as their house show series.  But that never happens.)  The Bottom Line: Tag title match is great, the rest is a pass. Third Stage: – Live from Los Angeles, California. – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. – Opening match: Ricky Steamboat v. Hercules Hernandez. Hernandez was nothing at this point. Well, he had a big afro, but that doesn’t count for much. Steamboat armdrags him into oblivion, thus showing where his early-RSPW nickname of “Armdragon” came from. Steamer does his usual double-leapfrog/elbow combo to a big pop, and back to move #193 (ARM-bar). (Aha!  This was written early 1998 judging by the Jericho reference, before I got totally sick of beating the joke into the ground.  Perhaps someday that will happen with BONZO GONZO, but not yet.  Not yet.)  Herc elbows out and stunguns Steamboat, but doesn’t follow up. Steamboat is totally carrying this thing, setting up Herc’s moves for him and selling melodramatically. Herc is terrible, plodding around and hitting the occasional power move. He stupidly goes to the top rope and runs into Steamboat’s knees, allowing Steamer to do the same and finish it with a flying bodypress. *1/2 – Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer. Hey, hillbillies. Alright. Elmer is some big fat guy, who I believe wrestled in Japan as Kamala II or something. (That is the kind of quality analysis and background you just don’t get elsewhere, folks.)  He batters Adonis with his bulk, but misses the big fat legdrop, allowing Adonis to go to the top for a big fat splash for the pin. DUD – Tito Santana & Junkfood Dog v. Terry & Dory Funk. This is the final blowoff for the JYD v. Terry Funk feud that put Funk over as a crazy Texan. Terry was a spry 42 or so at this point, a mere lad compared to his decrepit state today. (Keep in mind this was written in 1998 and Funk is STILL semi-active today)  Funk does his goofy selling for Santana. Mucho stalling. JYD beats up Terry for more goofy selling. He goes over the top rope two or three times for good measure. Dory comes in with some uppercuts on Tito, but Tito hits the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere to send the Texans scurrying to regroup. Santana gets kneed in the back and becomes Ricardo Morton. The Funks do some great old-school suplexes and general heel punishment on Santana. Terry misses a legdrop, which allows Santana to make the hot tag to JYD. Terry takes a wicked backdrop out of the ring. JYD even slams Terry through a table outside! He’s hardcore! JYD makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart, however, which allows Terry to get the megaphone and bop JYD for the winning pin. Good little match. *** – Main event, WWF Title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy. The deal is simple: Bundy kicked the crap out of Hogan on SNME and Hogan wants revenge. The “can he win it?” factor: Hogan’s ribs are taped from the initial attack. Hogan blitzes Bundy to start, but Bundy is Just Too Big ™ and delivers the usual punishment to Hogan. Dare I ask why Lee Marshall is at ringside for this? Interesting trivia note about this match: RSPW urban legend Steve DiSalvo was one of the guys who set up the cage.  (You can Wikipedia that shit if you care enough to, I’m moving onto the next rant.)  Bundy of course rips off the tape around Hogan’s ribs and chokes him out with it. Bundy gets rammed to the cage and blades. On camera. Hogan with the BACK SCRATCHES OF DOOM and more face-ramming. Sadly, the BODYSLAM OF DEATH doesn’t work on the first try. Bundy with the Avalanche and Big Fat Splash, but Hogan does the big hulk-up job. Another Avalanche and Hulk no-sells. Hulk inadvertantly expands his repretoire by powerslamming Bundy on a botched bodyslam, then he drops the leg and climbs out to retain the title. And being the sportsman that he is, he beats up poor Bobby Heenan after the match. Call it about * The Bottom Line: Surprisingly good Funks match, the rest is a definite pass. The Bottom Bottom Line: Nothing terribly historically significant about this show, and there’s a couple of good matches, but overall I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2 – So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (There you go, my basic life story in one paragraph.)  – Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work. – Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James. – Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight. Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice.  (BE A STAR, Paul.)  Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2* Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *  (I’m somewhat astonished that this got upgraded from negative stars to a single star.  I really am getting mellower in my old age.)  Jake Roberts v. George Welles Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. (Man, they had Savage, Jake AND Piper all under contract and on the heel side at once…and King Kong Bundy gets the main event slot.  No wonder this show was terrible.)  Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2 – A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness… Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) (Wow, a dated UFC reference.  Didn’t think you’d ever see that in these rants, did you?) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?  (Funny to note that the new format rant, where I’m generally more verbose with the match descriptions as a rule, features a much shorter version of the match than the original rant did.  I’m a complex guy sometimes.)  Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon… – Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD  (They should totally bring back Velvet as Sheamus’ mom.  Finlay can be his dad and wackiness will result when his parents go out drinking and brawl every night because they’re IRISH.  Like Sheamus, you see.)  Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale: Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs  (Those are the best kind, though), Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales. WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2 – To La-La Land! – Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2 Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps. Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****  (Let’s not go crazy here.  I may have been over enthused when I gave that rating out.)  WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary. Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.

PPV Numbers Continue To Fall

As per the Observer and a few other sites, Royal Rumble dropped yet again this year, from about 474K worldwide last year to 438K as it currently stands.  Obviously this will change as late buys come in and such, but given how positive the early signs seemed (the theater here in Saskatoon was sold out, which never happens) there’s not really much of a positive spin you can put on this.  Clearly they just keep driving off larger segments of the audience and they’re not coming back.  Combined with Rock’s disappointing Survivor Series number and a pretty dismal rating on RAW, and you have to wonder if ANYONE can move the needle anymore. 

PPV Numbers Continue To Fall

As per the Observer and a few other sites, Royal Rumble dropped yet again this year, from about 474K worldwide last year to 438K as it currently stands.  Obviously this will change as late buys come in and such, but given how positive the early signs seemed (the theater here in Saskatoon was sold out, which never happens) there’s not really much of a positive spin you can put on this.  Clearly they just keep driving off larger segments of the audience and they’re not coming back.  Combined with Rock’s disappointing Survivor Series number and a pretty dismal rating on RAW, and you have to wonder if ANYONE can move the needle anymore.